Kyoto: What to Eat and See in 2-3 Days

what to do in the am

Arashimaya - Bamboo Forest

This area is on the west part of Kyoto and about a 40 minute train ride or 25 minutes taxi ride from Kyoto proper. It's scenic and full of nature and one of the most popular places within Arashimaya is the Bamboo Forest. I recommend you get there early, around 8am, to take advantage of the calm, quiet beautiful forest. 

 

 

 

 

Arashimaya - Monkey Park

After the bamboo forest, stop by the monkey park which is across the river and a bit of a hike up. It takes about 30 minutes to go up, not too arduous but a bit longer than expected. Once you get up there you'll see tons of macaques monkeys around the park. At the top, you can go to their playhouse where they know to stay on the outside of the building while you enter inside. You can purchase snacks like bananas, apples, and peanuts to feed them.

 

Arashimaya - % Arabica Coffee

Touted as one of the best coffee shops in the area, expect some long lines for their artisan coffee.

It's a beautiful cafe with views of the river from the inside. 

 

 

 

Fushimi Inari

If you don't know this shrine by name, you'll know it by the orange gates. Fushimi Inari is famous for its over 14,000 Torii gates that go up the small mountain. It's about a 1-1.5 hour walk to the top (2-3 hours round trip) but you can go as far as you want and just turn back. Definitely go early to take advantage of the calmness and serenity and when there are fewer people to get a great photo op. 

When you exit the shrine, take advantage of the street food in the area and pick up delicious things like mochi filled with red bean and strawberries, grilled sweet potatoes, and more.

 

what to do in the pm

Gion area in Kyoto - great street food, small boutiques for shopping, and women in traditional garb. If you're lucky, you may see a real geisha in Hanami-koji.

Gion area in Kyoto - great street food, small boutiques for shopping, and women in traditional garb. If you're lucky, you may see a real geisha in Hanami-koji.

Gion

This area is famous for geishas and when I was here I saw a geisha on her way to a tea house for an appointment. Gion is a great place to wander around in the later afternoon for shopping, restaurants, and tea. The traditional part of Gion is Hanami-koji.

The more modern part of Gion is Shijo Dori which has bigger stores for shopping, a lot more lights, and is generally a busier street. 

 

Nishiki Food Market

Another must-see in Kyoto, if you like to eat and explore more native foods. It runs for about 8 - 10 blocks with food vendors on both sides. There are vendors that sell all sorts of delicious Japanese food - donuts, mochi, ice cream, green tea, seafood, etc, and etc. It's great to come here for lunch and just make a meal out of this entire strip. 

 

 

 

 

where to stay

Japanese style tatami beds at Hotel Kanra.

Japanese style tatami beds at Hotel Kanra.

Hotel Kanra Hotel

Highly recommend this boutique hotel for its location, cleanliness and attention to detail. The rooms are decorated in a ryokan style with cedar walls and floors, modern bathroom, and a huge wooden bathtub perfect for relaxing after a day of touring. 

Each room has a small entry way - it's almost like entering your own home. 

 

 

Copenhagen: What to Eat, See, and Shop

I just got back from a few days of traveling and was able to spend some time in beautiful Copenhagen. I've had friends visit Copenhagen and really love with it some saying it's one of their favorite European cities. I didn't have a ton of time, probably around 2.5 days but here are some of my favorite spots.


Eat

Of course, if you know me, you would know that I'm big into finding amazing places to eat. Copenhagen has risen up as a top food destination in the world with top Michelin rated restaurants like noma, AOC, Relæ, Geranium, etc, etc. When we were booking travel in October for our November trip, noma was booked until February the following year. 

However, we did dine at AOC, a two Michelin star restaurant.

AOC

Octopus dish with pretty, artful plating

Octopus dish with pretty, artful plating

While you're in Copenhagen you  might as well try one of their many Michelin starred restaurants. With these kinds of dining experiences it's less about the taste of the food and more about the experience, presentation, and concept. I say this because AOC wasn't the best tasting food I've ever had and at $165 per person you'd expect the food to taste awesome. But it was creative, fancy, and pretty experimental.
 

Papiröen - Copenhagen Food Hall

If you want to try some of Copenhagen's street food, this is a good place to check out. It's the same as other food halls and food market concepts with small stalls from different vendors. Nothing super interesting about this one except that it's in Copenhagen.

Ruby's

If you're looking for a nice place to grab a drink, the speakeasy feel of Ruby's is great. It's unassuming and the interior feels a little bit like a Parisian apartment.

Open-Faced Sandwiches Anywhere and Everywhere

The one that I had at Andersen Bakery at the bottom of the Nimb Hotel and near the entrance of Tivoli gardens was really good. Roast beef with fried onions, horseradish mayo, and pickles.

Delicious open-faced sandwich

Delicious open-faced sandwich

I've heard the open-faced sandwiches at Aamanns are some of the best in Copenhagen. There is also an Aamanns located in the CPH airport should you want a quick snack before you head back home. 

Kodbyens Fiskebar

Oysters and Nordic cheeses

Oysters and Nordic cheeses

Really great cool, casual and trendy seafood restaurant. Oysters, cheese plate, fish, fries with some beer is the way to go here.

Other Places I Wanted to Check Out

HÖST
Aamanns
Mad & Kaffe
Almanak
108 by noma


See

Nyhavn Harbor

This is the most Instagrammy place in Copenhagen. The colors of this little canal and harbor are so beautiful and charming. The streets are lined with restaurants and cafes but it's great just to stroll around and capture a photo in front of the colorful buildings.

Amalienborg Palace

This is the home of the Danish royal family and worth a look if you have some time.

Guards march back and forth

Guards march back and forth

Cirkelbroen (Circle Bridge) by Olafur Eliasson

One of my favorite artists of late is Olafur Eliason. He did the grottos at the Fondation Louis Vuitton which I wrote about here. He designed the Circle Bridge which true to its name is made of circles. They open up to let small boats pass through but the structure at night is really beautiful.

Circle Bridge at night

Circle Bridge at night

 

Kastellet

This former fortress is in the shape of a star and currently acts as a public park. It also houses some military activities. It's a great place for a quiet stroll and to check out some Danish military architecture.

Sunset at Kastellet

Sunset at Kastellet

Christiania

A few friends told me check out Freetown Christiania, a self-proclaimed autonomous city within the city of Copenhagen. Everyone told me not to go at night. And what did I do? We went at night. It was described to me as an episode of The Walking Dead for it's eerie, spooky atmosphere with a lot graffiti and street art, not to mention pot-smoking. Definitely something to check out.

Louisiana Museum

Really loved this museum. It's a 45 minute train ride from Copenhagen Station and a 15 minute walk to the museum once you get off the train but well worth the day trip. If you like modern and contemporary art, Louisiana Museum is full of work by Louise Bourgeois, Yayoi Kusama, Alexander Calder, Richard Serra and more. The best part is that it sits next to the water and has a pretty expansive outdoor space with sculptures and artwork. 

They have a cafe with a lunch buffet and the food is pretty good. You definitely get the sense that Danish food is light and full of vegetables. 


shop

Strøget

The largest pedestrian-only street in Copenhagen and the main shopping area. They have all the mainstream luxury and mass brands but we opted for boutiques like Hay House, Stilleben, Illums Bolighus for a look at Danish design.